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Google Currents for Apple iOS: Just Another Slow News App

Google released Google Currents today for Apple iOS iPhones, iPads and iPod touch devices. It’s a free app that makes some grand promises — “beautiful, magazine-like editions to your tablet and smartphone for high-speed offline reading,” the marketers say.

Unfortunately, Google Currents doesn’t even begin to deliver.

To give you an idea of how I arrived at this conclusion, here’s my hands-on experience with Google Currents.

Google preloads the Currents app with a library including content from Forbes, GOOD Lite, The Daily Beast, Fast Company, 500px and Saveur. A library of feeds for more magazine content is available, too.

Problem is, the whole app is clunky and terribly slow.

Even just loading a Google Currents list for a single category takes forever. From the outset, you’ll notice that Google Currents for iOS is just plain slow. Selection is sluggish.

And, while it’s possible to customize your own Google Reader feed list, try finding an option for selecting a whole category at a time. The UI here is utterly non-intuitive.

Then there’s the navigation problem. Google designed a strange and tiny icon — a semi circular, weirdly shaped refresh arrow as its Back button. And strangely, that button is at bottom left.

Some things worked slowly, some things worked badly, at least one feature didn’t work at all.

I tried adding “Trend” topics from the Google Currents list — a highly promoted feature. But it wouldn’t add content from my topics automatically. It forced me to keep tapping the refresh icon to restart the syncing process — the terribly slow syncing process. Even as I write this, I am still waiting for it to complete yet another sync. Incredibly slow is putting it kindly.

I also noticed a big problem with a major feature in Google Cuurents: social network sharing. It appears broken. The Settings options area for authenticating Facebook, Instapaper, Pinboard, and Tumblr is grayed out. There aren’t even available options for Twitter or, get this, Google + ! At this revision, there’s no way to authenticate Currents news aggregation with any of the services it lists.

I’ve been hearing folks comparing Google Currents to popular news aggregation apps like Flipboard and Zite.

There’s no comparison and nothing whatsoever for the competition to worry about — yet. I’ll probably boot it off my Apple iPad, soon. With Google Currents, Google totally missed the mark.

  • Jeremy

    This makes me want to get an iPad so I can hate it, too!

  • http://attackoftheandroids.com Eric Finkenbiner

    Well done Jeremy – I had to laugh at that one. I’ve been playing with Currents this afternoon on my Asus Transformer and haven’t been seeing a lot of the problems that you pointed out. I suspect that the social network sharing problems are isolated to iOS since I haven’t run into any issues. I personally really like Currents so far and am disappointed to hear that the iOS experience sucks so badly.

  • http://www.vintuitive.com Vincent

    Here’s another disappointing aspect: for an app that uses the world wide web, made buy a huge global internet company such as Google, it only works in 1 of the world’s 196 or so countries.

    :-(

    …just like several other Google products.

  • Carl

    Seeing *very* slow performance, CPU hogging and ultra slow sync times on a Nook Color overclocked to 1.2 Ghz as well, which isn’t nearly as fast as an iPad.

  • Brian Burgess

    I just installed it on my iPad 2 and the only sluggishness I experienced is while it’s syncing.
    My favorite app for creating a digital news mag is Zite.

  • Patty

    The app is VERY slow… but you’re totally wrong about these two:

    > Google designed a strange and tiny icon — a semi circular,
    > weirdly shaped refresh arrow as its Back button.

    That is the official “back button” for Android, and is also used in the iPhone version of this app.

    > And strangely, that button is at bottom left.

    It’s EXTREMELY common: Back (left)… and Forward (right).
    Do you want the opposite?

    • Todd Ogasawara

      The last time I checked, an iPad is not an Android device. So, an “official” back button for Android makes no sense on an iOS device. Re: The back button’s position. Again, following iOS UI conventions, the back button should be at the top left. While one could argue Android vs. iOS UI conventions, the rule is the design should follow conventions for the target platform. In this case I used the app on an iPad not an Android tablet and expected iPad UI conventions.

  • Keith

    I agree, I like Currents on android, but the iPad version is slow and bogs down. The fact that you can not schedule when it syncs means it bogs down bad each time you use it as iit is trying to sync. It also will sync while you are in the middle of reading something and it goes away sometimes making it impossible to find what you were in the middle of reading. I really want to find a Flipboard replacement sine I planning on moving to android tablet and already have an android phone. What I do like about Currents is that sine it uses my Google log on it makes every install of Currents I do on an device populae with same library items, so in a way it syncs Currents on all my devices that run it. I know IOS is less than ideal multitasking os but Google should allow it to be synced at set intervals and not jerk me around in the middle of reading an article.

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